Emma still hasn't done the exercises that her counselor gave her. She just got back to the dorm when she remembered that she had to meet with said counselor in 2 hours. “Phew. That's plenty of time!” she thought as she rifled through her school bag. She is so engrossed in trying to find that stupid “Interesting Industries” worksheet that she doesn't even notice that Leigh (and one of her friends) were in the room too.
It's only when she hears a backpack slam on the floor does, she looks up to see Leigh emptying her backpack onto her bed and her friend bending over to take out whatever she needed from her backpack (which looked like it weighed a ton) on the floor. Emma looks at Leigh as if to say “she can have my desk.” And shrugs and shakes her head- a little too vigorously- when Leigh returns with a “don't you need that?”
Emma catches the girl's eye and rolls her's towards her desk and says “you take mine if you need to.” “Oh, okay. Are you sure?” “Yeah, knock yourself out.” “By the way, I'm Ashley.” She looks back at Leigh, who, in turn, looks at Emma prompting her to say, with a slight upward nod, “Emma, I'm Emma.” Ashley left the room to go and grab something from hers, and, once she did, Leigh jumped all over Emma asking “what the hell was that? she's my friend, and I was hoping you would have been a little nicer than that!”
“Sorry Leigh, I was just a little caught off guard.” Leigh looks a little taken aback, replying “you were, that's usually my territory.” “Yeah, it sure is, but I was there just now. I mean, not for anything, you could have sent a text or something, just to let me know you weren't coming back alone.” Leigh listens carefully (although, there is no other way with her), thinks for a second or two, and then replies “I guess I should have. I never thought about it, at home we don't have rules about that sort of thing. Next time, I'll be sure to do that.” “At home?” “Yeah, I guess I haven't told you this yet either.” Emma looks quizzically at Leigh as if to say “no you haven't.” “I have three siblings (2 brothers and one sister) and we all kind of come and go as we please, bringing whoever we want back home with us.” “And your parents are okay with that?” “Yeah, I think they gave up trying to stop it a long time ago,” Leigh says with a smile and Emma can't help but smile back.
Ashley returns with lots of books. Leigh looks at Emma and Emma says “Ashley,” “yeah” “I'm sorry for the way I treated you earlier. I should have been nicer to you.” “It's okay. I told Leigh she should have texted you, but she didn't listen.” The two roommates looked at each other and then back at Ashley, and the three girls started laughing. Once Leigh stopped laughing, and Ashley began to work, Leigh looked over and mouthed an “I'm sorry” to Emma. Emma answered with an “it's okay. we're good.”
While Emma was taking a much-needed bathroom break, Ashley found the “Interesting Industries” worksheet that Emma had been looking for earlier. She holds it up in the general direction of Leigh and asks “what's this?” Leigh puts down her pen and turns around answering “Oh, Emma did the career thing this week instead of the academic one.” “So, what is she interested in?” “I don't know; maybe she's not interested in anything.” Leigh feels a pang of guilt but lets Ashley continue anyway. “I know some people are vacuous, but I never thought that we would align ourselves with them.”
Instead of defending Emma as she knew she should, Leigh says “I know, right, the school must not have put too much thought into the room assignments.” “I'm right with you. You should write them a letter telling them that.” “You mean, like a complaint.” “Yeah, that's exactly what I mean.”
Luckily for the girls, Emma missed the first part of the conversation while she was singing (well, it was more like yelling) along with some song. Although, exactly what song was a mystery since neither of them could hear any music. Unluckily for the girls, she had listened to the end of the conversation.
Emma gripped the doorknob to the bathroom tightly trying to hold back a flood of tears. Waiting a few seconds, she storms through the middle of whatever conversation there was left to have between Leigh and Ashely, grabbed her things and stormed out of the room into the hallway. She kept going until she found herself on some other floor where she found a quiet place to full-on sob.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence- although, it was probably closer to five or ten minutes- Ashley looks at Leigh (who has just let out some noise which sounded like the one you make when you are trying to hold back tears) and says “you should go find her.” Leigh turns around, with a baffled look on her face and tries to come up with some response. When she can't, Ashley fills the silence. “Leigh, listen to me if you want a friendship with her- and I can tell you do- you need to go find her. Now.” Leigh wipes away a tear that was forming in her right eye, turns to face Ashley and sputters “f-f–for what?” “S-she hates me; you saw the way she stormed out here.”
Ashley gets up, walks across the room, and sits down on Leigh's bed, patting the spot next to her with her right hand. Reluctantly, Leigh gets up from the desk and sits next to Ashley. Who, once they are situated, looks at Leigh and replies “well, yeah, what'd you expect? Wouldn't you be that upset if people said stuff like that about you?”
“I guess I would be.” “You guess?” Leigh gives Ashley a repulsive look and then is confused when a taken aback look finds its place on Ashley's face. “What?” she replies sheepishly. “Nothing.” “Come on! It isn't nothing!” “You're right; it isn't nothing.” “So, what is it?” “You really can't see it?” “See what?”
Ashley shakes her head vigorously as she gets up from the bed and charges towards her Emma's desk. She hurriedly packs up her things- without even looking at Leigh-and exits the room. Leigh is now left to try and figure out how she could have just lost two people she wanted to have friendships with in one fell swoop.